The southern fringe of the Brecon Beacons National Park
consists of a long belt of outcrop
lime stone which has created a highly distinctive environment characterised by a
wooded gorges, caves, swallow holes, and waterfalls. This intriguing landform is
most distinct in the locality known as Coed Y Rhaeadr which translates as Wood
of the water falls but is referred to locally simply as Waterfall Country.
is situated in a triangle
formed by the villages of Hirwaun, Ystradfellte, and Pontneddfechan. Waterfall
country includes the head waters of the rivers Nedd, Mellte, Pyrddin and Hepste.
These rivers drain the old red sandstone mountain ranges of the Fanís in the
north and travel south through the deep V shaped wooded valleys the rivers have formed
in the carboniferous limestone of the southern belt of the national park. In
addition to being part of the national park, waterfall country is officially
designated as a site of special scientific interest containing over 200 species
of mosses, liverworts, and ferns.
Since designation as a national park in 1957 the popularity of waterfall
country combined with a steep and difficult terrain which is subject to heavy
rainfall has led to widespread footpath erosion. It is advised that you take
particular care when visiting this locality because there have been fatal
accidents here on many occasions
The river Hepste commands the most famous of waterfall. Sgwd Y Eira,
the waterfall of snow, has a natural path that
passes behind the waterfall offering walkers a most unusual view of the
curtain of water. Further south, a short distance
below Sgwd Y Pannwr on the Mellte, the Hepste joins the Mellte .
The river Nedd has its source high in the Fforest
Fawr and as it travels south to be joined by the Pyrddin it reveals a series of waterfalls including
Sgwd Ddwli. The Afon Pyrddin has two major waterfalls along its length named
Sgwd Einion Gam and Sgwd Gwladys. Just below Sgwd Gwladys the Pyrddin joins the
Nedd which eventually make it way into the sea at Swansea bay.
Afon Llia has its source close to the standing stone Maen Madoc and some miles
downstream it joins the river Dringarth to form the Afon Mellte. The
first waterfall that we come to on the Afon Mellte is Sgwd Clun Gwyn
translates as white meadow fall. The second waterfall is named Sgwd Isaf Clun
Gwyn which translates as the lower white meadow fall. The third waterfall
is named Sgwd y Pannwr (Fall of the Fuller). The river Mellte suddenly disappears underground into
Porth Y Ogof the cave of the white horse.
There are particular dangers attached to walking in the
waterfall country. The footpaths
take you along and above deep valleys. It is common place to find yourself
walking on a narrow slippery footpath with a steep dangerous drop on one side.
Avoid walking to the edge of paths or waterfalls. Take especial care when
viewing waterfalls as the sheer beauty of the waterfall may be distracting and
lead you into danger. The valleys
are heavily wooded and the leaves that fall during the autumn have a tendency to
linger on the surface of the ground throughout the year. Consider also that rock may outcrop on sections of the footpaths surfaces
which are often wet and therefore especially slippery. It is no exaggeration to say that one should take particular care when
the walking in waterfall country and be mindful of the fact that many accidental
deaths have occurred here. Walking boots with good gripping soles are essential. Having said that waterfall country is one of the most rewarding
experiences for the walker that to be found in any National Park in England and
Tay's Shop - Ross filling station and shopper, Ystradfellte
Rd, Pontneddfechan, Glynneath. General' store
open 7 days a week with filling station selling unleaded petrol and diesel. Ice
cream , cold drinks and provisions. Brecon beacons national Park village
information agency. Adjacent to waterfalls and near to Ystradfellte youth hostel
located midway between Pontneddfechan and Ystradfellte Tel. 01639-720547
information office for Waterfall Country is located in Pontneddfechan
opposite the Angel hotel public house at ordnance survey the ref S.N 902076
Tel. 01639 721795. Currently it is open seven days week from April to September and
weekends only from October to March.
Porth Y Ogof